• Robert Spicer

Health And Safety: Duty Of Care


Duty of care

Case Yates v National Trust [2014] PIQR P270, High Court

Facts The National Trust contracted J to fell a tree. He arranged for a team of workers to carry out the work. He told Y to climb the tree and start the felling. Y was paid cash in hand, as he had been on a number of previous occasions. Y was cutting branches from the tree when he fell 50 feet and was seriously injured. He had no public liability insurance. He brought proceedings in negligence against the National Trust. The basis of the claim was that the Trust had engaged J but had not taken reasonable care to ensure that he and his work methods were competent and safe, or that the men whom he employed for the job were suitably qualified, trained and covered by insurance. The expert evidence was that Y’s fall was a result of his accidental cutting of his ropes, that a branch or anchor point had given way or that he had inadvertently detached himself from one anchor point before he was safely attached to another.

Decision 1. Y was not employed by the Trust.

2. The Occupiers Liability Act 1957 was not relevant because Y had not been inured due to the state of the premises.

3. The risks presented by the tree were the risks ordinarily incident to the calling of a tree surgeon who was climbing the tree with a chainsaw. It was apparent that the tree was diseased or dying.

4. The Trust did not owe Y a duty of care n relation to the choice of J as an independent contractor. Even if it had, it was reasonable for the Trust to instruct J.

5. There was no basis on which it could be said that the Trust owed a duty of care to Y to ensure that if an accident happened as a consequence of his employer’s fault, he would be able to enforce a claim against that employer.

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